Saturday Afternoon General Conference Open Thread

As is traditional here at Times and Seasons, please feel free to post your comments, thoughts, insights and inspirations regarding the Saturday afternooon session of General Conference here.

221 comments for “Saturday Afternoon General Conference Open Thread

  1. I’m eating In-n-Out burger while watching conference on my computer… I wish church could be like this every week

  2. This is the first time I can recall an all girl choir in a “normal” session of conference. They are doing great.

  3. Normally our internet streaming here in Nigeria is pretty bad, but BYU TV has been coming through GREAT the whole time.

  4. I, too, am really enjoying this choir. And although I have peanut M & Ms instead of a burger, I fully sustain Ryan’s comment.

  5. Thanks Trevor!

    WillF, as always we will hold an empty seat in honor of you at our pre-priesthood meal.

  6. I am a Soldier in Iraq. It is 11:10 p.m. Yet, I am still able to sit at my desk and listen to General Conference via the internet. I am only getting audio because the video feeds are blocked over here. But, what a blessing to be in a combat zone and yet still be able to participate in conference!! We are truly blessed to be led by a living prophet in our day along with the apostles and other general authorities.

  7. David, thank you for your service. May the blessings of the Lord be with you and yours always.

    It is great that you can listen to conference from so far away and under such conditions. The Lord works in wonderous ways.

  8. This talk by Elder Ballard is a breath of fresh air. I really like the way he is going about this. I admit I cringe when I hear other members of the chuch go in to WAY to much when someone is just curious. Elder Ballard: “Difference between interest and curiosity”

  9. David, Yes the worldwide distribution of conference really is a kind of miracle isn’t it. Now if only you could have an In-n-Out burger too… Perhaps in the millenium

  10. Sorry, wrong thread.

    I was surprised that Elder Ballard would concede that a lot of misunderstanding of Mormonism is the Church’s own fault for not explaining itself properly.

  11. Elder Ballard just used the phrase “personal Savior”–interesting because Romney took flak for using it.

  12. This talk by Elder Ballard reminded me of something that surprised me when I first say it — has anyone else seen Elder Ballard on the new official LDSPublicAffairs YouTube site?
    His talk is right in sync with what they are doing there (video FAQs)

    Costanza, I’ll eat something picante for dinner to be there in spirit.

  13. I recognize that it’s not technically inaccurate or anything, but I just can’t ever hear a phrase like “polygamy was a limited practice in the early days of the church which has long since been discontinued” without getting a little annoyed.

  14. RAF, it is in fact inaccurate to say that it was discontinued in 1890 (if by discontinued one means “no longer being performed by proper church authority”).

  15. you know what, the most frequent question people ask me when they find out I am a Mormon has been what do I think of Warren Jeffs. I know that most members are horrified that anyone would associate him with the Church today. But really, we need to own polygamy. It is such a huge part of our history.

  16. Thank you to all for your kind words. Support from back home helps boost our spirits over here.

    We do live in miraculous times. My Grandfather certainly did not have such ready access to conference and other gospel resources while serving in WWII and Korea. I am so thankful for the tender mercies of the Lord.

    And, yes, a good burger would be great!!

  17. I’m going to use Elder Wirthlin’s slight misstatement in my handout on writing that I give my students:

    “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not clarity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

  18. Constanza, Camille, BIV–I don’t have a strong opinion about how or if it should be brought up or “owned up to”; I’m just confessing that, personally, I’ve always found phrases like those to smell a little too much of focus groups.

  19. Not to pick at nits, but that’s a less-than-accurate description of Jesus’ contemporaries’ understanding of the relative weight of commandments.

  20. Elder Wirthlin is suddenly channeling David B. Haight in both appearance and speech (but mostly in appearance).


  21. I cannot see Elder Wirthlin, but he does sound like Elder Haight, maybe like Brigham Young channeling Joseph Smith.

  22. Ryan,
    You’re about to start a long-lasting Mormon myth, ala BY transfigured as JS.

  23. Is Elder Wirthlin going to make it through his talk? They might take him straight to the hospital after his talk.

  24. what a wonderful message. I know we are all fixated on his physical condition at the moment, but his words are so incredibly beautiful

  25. The Lord will sustain Elder Wirthlin through all of his talk, with the need to express how we should be as members of Christ’s Church.

  26. Notice how they pulled away from the closeup of the podium at the end of Elder Wirthlin’s talk.

  27. Wow, that was inspiring. Elder Wirthlin talking about Jesus trembling, as he was doing so himself. Him talking about brotherly love, as one of his brothers was there lending him physical support. Very touching.

  28. For those of us without access to video, can someone give a description of what they saw with Elder Wirthlin? He was obviously struggling and it sounds like Elder Nelson stepped up to help him, but the details are really fuzzy…..

  29. The shot pulled away before we got to see those two men of God make eye contact with one another after that remarkable event!

  30. Elder Wirthlin was born in 1917. Wow. He might not be with us much longer. It’s amazing that he can still stand and give a talk like that.

  31. Travis, you got it. Elder W. was trembling and breathing hard. Elder N. stood before him with his hand on his back (or arm?). It was beyond touching.

  32. Um, I think Kipling wrote more than that one poem. Seriously, how many times has that one been quoted in Conference?

  33. Travis,

    Elder Wirthlin was shaking and it looked like he might fall over, so Elder Nelson stood up behind Elder Wirthlin and held him steady. I’ve never seen anything like it in General Conference.

  34. I was about to post something cute, and then I heard a change in the sound of Brother Wirthlin’s voice. When I switched back to the conference tab, I saw his friend, Elder Nelson, sustaining him with his doctor’s hands, so that his brother, Joseph Wirthlin, could finish his talk.

    My dad once told me that he enjoys Elder Wirthlin’s talks most. The delivery isn’t always the greatest, but when you go back and read them in the Ensign, they contain some of the best of the hidden gems from conference.

    We have an amazing Church.


  35. Travis #51: About half-way into his talk, Elder Wirthlin began to tremble, and then shake. At first I thought it was Parkinson’s or something similar, but it became clear that he was struggling to remain standing. Elder Nelson quietly came up behind him, put his arm around one waist and under the other arm, and supported Elder Wirthlin through the rest of the talk. It was quite touching. What great love these men have for each other.

  36. I was afraid that we were going to have another incident like the one with President Hunter when he fell over backwards while speaking in GC. I can’t remember when that was but I vividly remember seeing it.

  37. #62 – If I remember correctly, President Hunter broke a rib in the fall, but finished his talk.

  38. Note: I am a couple minutes behind on my video feed so my comment regarding Elder Haight was prior to Elder Wirthlin needing aid. I was not making a snide comment.

  39. We don’t have a TV connection, but from what you all are saying, it sounds like what happened at a regional conference broadcast from Birmingham, AL, when we were living in Arkansas a few years back. Poor Elder Wirthlin completely lost it at the pulpit; he wandered way off subject, stuttered and mumbled, got a look of fear and confusion in his eyes, then abruptly sat down without any conclusion. Elder Nelson was at the conference with him, and he was scheduled to speak next. He got up, took Elder Wirthlin by the hand, led him back to the pulpit, whispered something in his ear, then announced that he was certain everyone would like to hear Elder Wirthlin bear his testimony, which he then did (with Nelson occasionally prompting him). Nelson was able to do this in part because he’s actually a very tall and commanding man, and maintained a grip on Elder Wirthlin’s shoulder throughout. Did anyone see if Nelson accompanied Wirthlin up in the first place, or he come up at some point during his talk?

  40. #59 Jon – I totally agree with your Fathers statement. I currently serve with a bishop who is very much like Elder Wirthlin in that regard. When he speaks in sacrament meeting I get so sad when I look out and see the other members of the congregation who look bored because of his delivery style. But the message is so powerful. I fear we have missed incredible messages from Elder Wirthlin over the past few years because of that.

  41. I forgot that there is a different “line” for each session.

    Is anybody aware if we can, at some point, obtain video of the conf sessions? I don’t mean just to watch over the internet, but to download and use in lessons.

  42. Russell, in this case, he didn’t seem to have any mental lapses or loss of focus such as you described happening before.

  43. Also, sounds like this episode was different. Elder W struggled, but remained coherent, lucid, and, apparently, focused on the prompter. It was a lesson in, among other things, composure.

  44. This is the first time I’ve ever heard Elder Kopischke speak English. 5 years ago I was a missionary in Stuttgart, and he was the Stake President. It’s a little weird seeing him not only in General Conference, but also speaking English! I had no idea he spoke English so well!

  45. Preach my Gospel is an excellent tool, and I’m sure we all need to become more familiar with it. But if we use it as much as he suggests, it will become as stale and boring as those recycled Conference talks we hear first in Conference, then over the pulpit, then in RS and PH meetings. Yawn.

  46. Guatemala, Germany, the Philippines … this is one of the most international General Conferences I’ve seen.

  47. Behind the Infamous Veil,

    Actually, I was a big fan of the missionary discussions.

  48. This sounds like it’s going to be good.
    This the third indexing of Alma’s “bearing burdens” sermon–two in speech, one in action.

  49. “Actually, I was a big fan of the missionary discussions.”
    I’ll second that sentiment.

  50. BIV

    I’m not really this snarky, I just thought of a funny swap around with the beginning of your comment: Changing out “Preach my Gospel” with “The Book of Mormon”

  51. I once worked with Keith Heilbig (spelling?). He was a pretty outstanding guy, though, admittedly, a lawyer.

  52. Elders Falabella, Kopischke and Teh were all called to the First Quorum of the Seventy last conference. I wonder if Elder Octaviano Tenorio and Elder Claudio D. Zivic (also called in April) will speak this weekend.

  53. “indeed” was in response to #87.
    “Would that we would hear as much from the BoM in our meetings as we hear recycled conference talks!”

  54. Elder Hilbig’s family and mine became well acquainted when he was a mission president in Zurich Switzerland. Years later I saw him in the Salt Lake Temple and was surprised that he remembered me. He has always seemed to me to be a man of surprisingly great humility, somewhat rare for one who has held distinguished positions. What an excellent talk.

  55. It’s hard not to notice the ubiquitous semi-voice crack in delivery, especially on the part of men. I read no self-conscious performance or cynicism here, but it’s amazing how contagious Mormon habits of speech and locution are.

  56. Elder Holland is obliquely referring to the attention that Mitt Romney is bringing us. Speaking of which… is Mitt Romney in Salt Lake today?

  57. Elder Holland- “Whether we are christians has hinged on continuing revelation and our view of the godhead. In addressing this, we do not need to be apologists for our faith…”

    Is he using apologist in its technical sense of “defender of the faith,” or does he mean apologetic, as in “I’m sorry” ?

  58. 1st century saint: “Would that we would hear as much from the Torah in our meetings as we hear recycled letters of Paul.”

  59. Elder Holland is really setting people straight right here. This talk might make some waves.

  60. I love that he’s addressing the real issues that lead others to not count us as Christians, rather than assuming that detractors simply didn’t know that we have “Jesus Christ” in the official title of our church.

  61. What an incredible talk by Elder Hilbig

    Here comes my favorite: Elder Holland – what a session!

  62. “Separate persons but a single being. Three distinct persons but not three gods. ”

    He’s successfully avoided the LDS (and non-LDS!) pitfall of reading modalism into the trinity, modalism being that there is one person who is manifested in three different ways.

  63. Elder Holland fires a shot across the bow…. he will not let the Evangelicals smear us.

  64. Elder Holland! I love this exploration into trinity. Great point on the fact that the bible doesn\’t talk about the \”traditional\” trinity using a non-mormon bible dictionary.

  65. “Now we agree with our fellow Christians that [the post-New Testament formulations of the Godhead] are incomprehensible.”

    BOO-yah! Home run.

  66. austin,

    I think he said that we agree with other Christian Churches that the Nicean Creed is confusing.

  67. Due respect, how does he expect this not to be taken as demeaning by those whose beliefs he dissects?

  68. Still, I love his willingness to acknowledge serious difference in basic understandings of godliness between Mormons and other Christian traditions/denominations.

  69. I mean I agree with his position, for sure, and I don’t think he meant it in a demeaning way, but I’m just afraid that everyone else will see it that way. Overall I think it’s a great talk, very direct, and I guess I’m just kind of squeamish about stepping on toes.

  70. 115: really, more at protestantism. Catholics believe in church authority, but protestants don’t (particularly for that period), so the protestants’ reliance on the 4th century creeds is much less coherent.

  71. Remember his thesis was we need not be apologetic about our doctrine.

  72. IMO, Elder Holland implied that those who believe in the Nicean creed are not really Christians…

  73. Looks like virgin birth, literal miracles, and some kind of penal substitution Christological model, and bodily resurrection, and millennialism all inform Elder H’s positive definition of true Christian belief.

  74. Wilfried: It seems to me that he simply says that they hold mistaken beliefs about the nature of the godhead, which is not quite the same thing.

  75. Who cares about their feelings?

    Seriously, people.

    He’s addressing people who have taken it upon themselves to label us and define us as non-Christian. Thus, if they cannot handle a response, have their feelings hurt, or have their toes stomped on, then maybe they should stick to their own knitting and not try and tell us who and what we are.

  76. Interesting, too, that he dealt with only one of the two bones that he believes NM Christians typically pick with Mormons–he only addressed trinitarianism and not open cannon.

  77. Brad, Holland wrote the atonement entry for EOM. He is a Ransom guy, not a penal substitution guy.

    But his Ransom model is not typical.

  78. #127 – I think he’s implying that those who believe the Nicene Creed are confused and have a belief-set inconsistency, not that they’re not Christian.

  79. It looks to me as though Elder Nelson is explicitly responding to the second objection set up by Elder Holland. I bet that they sat down and divided up between them.

  80. Probably, Nate (132). But he definitely took those to task who accuse us of not being Christian. Turned the tables around, which implies… We’ll have to reread some of the crucial sentences he said.

  81. I think he must have meant we don’t have to be apologists for our faith in the general, not the technical sense (since his very talk is itself apologetic in the technical sense).

  82. Now time to stomp on the BoM attacks. Geez, what’s up? Four out of six Apostles so far have been addressing the public perceptions and criticisms of Mormonism. It’s sounding almost like a week on the nacle – except a little more inspired perhaps…

  83. Mormons are under the microscope right now because of Mitt Romney, so this sort of stuff from Nelson and Holland is needed.

  84. If you take Elders Ballard, Holland, and Nelson’s talks here we should be well positioned to answer and respond to those of other faiths…especially helpful down here in the south!

  85. I don’t remember the last time I saw a speaker in conference read directly from a book rather than from the prompter. Nice touch

  86. I agree that Elder Holland is talking about an open canon, since he is talking about how the Scriptures of the Restoration clarify the Bible.

  87. 127. “not truly Christians”

    More specifically, that they cannot reconcile their creeds with the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus.

  88. This is hilarious, here we are finishing up this round of conference with some serious declarations regarding truths we hold almost exclusively… meanwhile my Mother in law (who is pretty adamant that Mormons are a cult) came over to visit us today and I refused to turn off conference. She’s silently fuming over Holland and Nelson’s talks. It’s awkward in my house today

    Good times.

  89. “He is a Ransom guy, not a penal substitution guy”
    Is this the wrong thread for conveying my own personal distaste for both?

  90. Wilfried, Nate,

    In my experience, the Trinity is simply not something that most Christians worry about. It’s enough that God was incarnate in Jesus. The rest are just details.

    And it’s also important to note that the Nicene creed does not have monolithic status among Christians. At the traditional Anglican prayers that I sometimes attend, it’s the Apostles’ Creed that finds favour, and I find nothing in it to be philosophically disagreeable. Indeed, I find it to represent a sound doctrinal essence of Christianity:

    I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    creator of heaven and earth.

    I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
    who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, died, and was buried;
    he descended to the dead.
    On the third day he rose again;
    he ascended into heaven,
    he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
    and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

    I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting.

  91. I have to say that I find it refreshing to hear us answering the question “How wide the divide?” by saying, in effect, “Pretty wide, and here’s why.”

  92. But Ronan, isn’t the point that the apostles’ creed (or others with which we have no doctrinal quarrel) are not the fundamental basis for the claim that we are not Christian because we reject “the Christian God”?

  93. If the only value of the BoM is that it testifies to the Bible, of what use is it to people who already believe in the Bible’s truth, let alone its inerrancy?

  94. And do we really think that our own proof-text models of scripture/prophecy-fulfillment will prove convincing to people whose own rigorous proof-text models constitute their precise foundation for rejecting our own claims?

  95. I didn’t hear him say that testifying of the Bible was the *only* value of the Book of Mormon. Maybe I misheard?

  96. In #36, Brad Kramer wrote, “You’re about to start a long-lasting Mormon myth, ala BY transfigured as JS.” I realize this is off topic, but it caught me by surprise. Truman Madsen, in his book “The Presidents of the Church” wrote of the transfiguration of Brigham Young, “Some historians write the experience off as hallucinatory or as a legend that grew up later. But I have combed the sources and found at least a hundred journal entries or letters that were written in the very period.” (p. 38)

    Perhaps I misunderstood your use of the term “myth.”

  97. At the traditional Anglican prayers that I sometimes attend, it’s the Apostles’ Creed that finds favour, and I find nothing in it to be philosophically disagreeable.

    I agree that the Apostles’ Creed is much more simple and much more accurate summation of what the great majority of Christians believe (including us; I can affirm the Apostles’ Creed unproblematically, and I think any other Mormon ought to be able to as well), and thus the apologetic focus on some of the metaphysical nonsense in the Nicene Creed is a red herring. But then again, some of the most fervent anti-Mormons use the Nicene Creed regularly to attack us, so I don’t mind seeing someone like Elder Holland turn the tables on occasion and use it as a weapon against them.

  98. Travis,

    Maybe. I’m just trying to point out that Christians themselves do not walk around with the Nicene Creed tied to their forehead. So, if we are to turn the tables and say the creeds make no sense, we must be sure we are choosing the right creed.

    Of course, I also believe that the Nicene Creed, in its vagaries, can be made to fit a general Mormon notion of God.

  99. #164
    I don’t think it’s the only value, and I don’t think Elder N thinks it is. But his response to BoM detractors seems to imply that that is its most significant value.

  100. 165: Is the purpose to convince the critics that we\’re right, or is to really to speak to those who hear/read the criticisms and need to hear a response?

  101. I would love to see those sources that Madsen has seen. I have done a bit of research into that myself and I can tell you that, unless he has seen sources that no one else has, he is employing a very liberal definition of the word “period.”

  102. Russell,
    So what I’m saying is: bash these anti-Mormons, yes, but let’s not let the polemic unjustly whack Christianity in general. I’m not saying Elder Holland is doing that, but I know Mormons take any anti-creed bone and gnaw it rabidly. That’s all.

  103. Bradley,
    All TM’s citations come from after-the-fact accounts. I’d have to look up the BYU studies article written recently on the topic, but the writer found no contemporary accounts that even suggested transfiguration. This is a pretty hairy historical question about how individual and collective memory conjugate with history and group mythology. I’m sure a little googling will lead you to the BYUS piece in question, which lays out the key issues quite clearly. Maybe Kevin B can assist us with a link.

  104. Ronan (or anyone who can answer) –

    If the Nicene creed (or one of the councils/creeds that followed from it) is not the basis for the claim that we don’t believe in “the Christian God”, then I wonder what is? I’ve frankly never felt the argument was worth looking into. I think the whole “Mormons aren’t Christians” is an unwinnable argument that comes down to us simply shouting “Yes we are!” as loudly and as often as we can.

    I am curious though to know what that basis is, assuming there is one.

  105. “he is employing a very liberal definition of the word “period.””
    Yeah, like “the Nineteenth Century.”

  106. Ronan: I agree with you that few Christians spend much time thinking or worrying about the trinity. I also don’t see that I was “unfairly wacking Christianity.”

  107. #36, #167: The recently-published book Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820-1844 has an entire section on those first-hand eyewitness accounts. There are dozens and dozens of them.

  108. I think that the argument evangelicals have with us about our christianity is also about our claim to being the only church that leads to salvation – at least from one evangelical friend’s claim, any evangelical church can lead to salvation despite the branch. I also think that our definition of repentance as requiring a change in behavior on our part is seen as denying part of Christ’s power to save.

  109. Not to be a doubting Thomas, but being fairly well-acquainted with the source material and historiographic debates surrounding the Nauvoo period, I’ll believe it when I see it. It’s not a question of people who were their claiming to have seen it. It’s that all such accounts are very retrospective. No one went home and wrote in their journal “I saw the person of Joseph Smith in Brigham Young today.” Rather, they went to Utah, and thirty years later wrote “I was there and I remember seeing JS in BY.”

  110. Travis,

    I think the NC’s trinitarian formulation is key to the problem, and some Christians make that (the Trinity) to be a pre-requisite for Christian belief. The “different Christ” argument also finds offense in Mormonism’s formulation that we are of the same “family” as Christ; they hate the Book of Mormon; and think the LDS church (through its membership requirements) offers salvation to Mormons, not Christ.

    I think those latter points may be more understandable than the Nicene Creed/Trinity problem. But you should ignore me as I personally kind of believe in the Trinity and I think Mormons kind of do too. (Too late here to explain that further…!)

  111. Kevin,
    That’s link’s not working for me. The initial link with the abstract works, but the DL link is broken.

  112. Nate,
    I didn’t mean that you personally whack Christians; my point is only that Mormons kind of do. Mormons love whacking traditional Christian beliefs. The only diff is that we don’t confine them to hell, just to the lower heavens!

  113. Mike,
    There are lots of accounts published in that article. but if you look closely, the author lists no dates for the vast majority of the accounts. So we have no way of knowing how close to the “period” these accounts were when collected. Also in that chapter, the author quotes Ron Esplin who says that there are “no contemporary diary account” of the event.

  114. The original article is as follows:

    Lynne Watkins Jorgensen and BYU Studies staff, “The Mantle of the Prophet Joseph Passes to Brother Brigham: A Collective Spiritual Witness,” BYU Studies 36/4 (1996–97): 125–204.

    For some reason I can’t open the article itself at the BYU Studies database at the Lee Library, but maybe others will have better luck.

    I don’t know whether the version of this that appeared in Opening the Heavens reflected revisions, but it may have; if so, that would be the more up to date source.

  115. Just got back from the chapel.

    Elder Wirthlin’s talk was absolutely amazing, and if it’s his final talk it will tank with Elder Faust’s talk on forgiveness. Elder Nelson’s assistance made me cry.

    I loved Elder Holland’s talk. It is rare to hear audibly, “Wow!” and “YES!” and such in a Mormon chapel during a service of any kind, but I heard that and more in Ohio today. That was an apostolic talk if I’ve ever heard one.

    This has been the most memorable day of General Conference I can remember in my decades of watching them.

  116. Re #195
    It’s not that we don’t have any contemporary records. It’s that we have lots of contemporary, first-hand accounts of the meeting in question, none of which mentions seeing JS in BY. It’s not like we have texts attributable to Gospel writers that do date to the period of Jesus’ ministry but fail to mention his miracles, death, resurrection, or even him altogether.

  117. Ian M. Cook,

    Yes, but that’s an argument against Christianity in general…. it weakens the historicity of the gospels in the New Testament.

  118. Ronan (#187), we don’t necessarily relegate other religious people to the lower levels of heaven. On the contrary, we acknowledge that some of them are just as likely to make it to the top as any of us on “the inside.” I don’t know of any other religion, let alone Christian church, that is so conciliatory and inclusive about welcoming as much of the entire human race as possible into heaven.


    P.S. I got choked up again just reading all the comments about Elder Wirthlin’s talk. Ironically, I missed most of Elder Nelson’s talk because I was reading all the comments, so I’m going to watch his again now. By the way, I love our Church.

  119. What became of Elder Wirthlin? I’m watching second session on a granddaughter’s-fifith-birthday-celebration delay. That part was stunning, to see a leader, a brother, silently, strongly sustantin a faltering speaker. But then what? The camera angle drew back, and lights seemed to dim after Elder Wirthlin’s talk, to give him time to move away. Did he sit down, go elsewhere, what? Bottom line, is he okay?

  120. Jon,
    Yes, but they’ve got to be Mormons first! Remember, Mormons don’t just offer Christian baptism to the dead, it’s a specifically Mormon baptism. We also confirm people as members of the *Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints* by proxy. For Protestants, that’s an outrageous state of affairs. “Too bad,” you might say, “mine is the true church.” And there you would demonstrate why “church,” not trinitarian “doctrine” (or lack thereof), is the basic stumbling block.

  121. Took me a while to get through this thread, but I a can honestly say I am salivating for an In-N-Out burger.

    Thanks Ryan.

  122. Ronan, I disagree, unless you define “Mormon” so broadly so as to include nearly everybody. If “Mormon” includes Adam, Moses, Nephi, Jesus, Paul, and everyone that died before age 8, then we’re talking about a whole different group than most, either in or out of the church, think of as Mormon. There’s nothing specifically Mormon about proxy baptism. It’s done in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as described in the Bible. Unless you happen to know that the specific verbiage is LDS, the form and wording of the ceremony would probably fit in with most Christian traditions. The proxy confirmations are more problematic, but I see the confirmation as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a necessary product of the fact that we derive our authority from the church of this dispensation. Confirming them into other manifestations of the “true church” (e.g., ancient Israel, the Nephite church, or the church in the meridian of time) would also hypothetically be valid, but we have our authority through the LDS church, so we confirm them into that organization.

    I’ve never seen proxy baptism as putting people into our “denomination” of Christianity; to me, it’s always meant that we offer what we see as a valid Christian baptism. To my way of thinking, it doesn’t pigeonhole them into any subset of Christianity.

  123. That’s Aaron Shafovalaoffanoughagus of the fluffy bunny nice-nice club summarizing, at Mormonism Research Ministry…

  124. Left Field,

    I think you’re underestimating the symbolic importance of exactly that confirmation. Also, that Mormon baptism is the only “valid Christian baptism.”

    This is bread and butter Mormon stuff, so embrace it cheerfully. But do not be surprised that this making people into Mormons — for that is exactly what it looks like from the outside — sticks in the craw.

    Our differences and challenges run far deeper than godhead/trinity.


  125. FYI to anyone interested – Elder Wirthlin is fine. He simply had a back spasm – he has some history of back issues. But he is fine. In the halls of the Church office building after the session, Elder Holland came up to Elder Wirthlin and said, \”If we ever have to go up a mountain, I want you to lead us.\”

  126. The church does not hold that “Mormon baptism” is the only valid Christian baptism. The church recognizes for example, baptisms performed by Alma and John the Baptist, neither of which was ever a Mormon by any accepted definition. If we expand the definition of “Mormon” so far as to include John and Alma, then “Mormon” becomes synonymous with Christianity, and then the organization people become part of by proxy baptism must then simply be Christianity, not some subset of it.

    I do agree that those on the outside may not share this perspective. But as I see it, the intent of the baptism is not to make them members of our denomination of Christianity.

  127. This is a few hours late, but I thought it was very interesting that Elder Ballard suggested we create our own “pass along card” with information about the church. I must admit it’s hard for me to envision myself handing someone such a paper at the moment, but he did not introduce a new standardized talking point form we should all download or something. I think I really like this, and it seems significant that there is not an official, correlated, standardized message they are asking us to present. They are asking *us* to summarize some information about the church we think would be interesting and important for *our* friends and acquaintances to know.

  128. Elders Holland and Nelson did a fine job as apologists. I hear Mormons craving to be understood, but I don’t know many Mormons who take the time to HONESTLY explore things like the undivided substance thing or the significance of sola scriptura. I used to be so proud of being different that I didn’t even CARE why others criticized my beliefs; I didn’t WANT to understand why. But open-mindedness works both ways. If I want people to seriously consider my beliefs, I ought to be willing to approach theirs with the same sincerity. On my mission in SLC, I witnessed the conversion of a woman whose father, a Lutheran minister, had made sure the family bookshelves were filled with important books, including the Book of Mormon. The father was not happy with his daughter’s decision to join the Mormon church later on in her life, but at least he always had an open mind and the confidence to consider others’ beliefs sympathetically. That attitude ultimately enabled his daughter to recognize the good in Mormonism. So I must ask myself: Am I following this father’s example? I should struggle and strive to understand others’ beliefs as vigorously as I hope they will do with Mormonism.

  129. posting from the chapel at priesthood. how does president monson have a story for every occasion?

  130. Again, to echo #185 because it might get lost in the midst of these posts: Elder Holland seems to have used the Nicene Creed of 325 as a starting point; the NC isn’t terribly trinitarian except for the term “of the same substance” or “homoousia” which encountered heated debates at Nicea in opposition to the word “homoiousia” or “of similar substance”, which many participants wanted to use but was dropped in favor of harsher language against the Arians. The idea was added to in the 381 Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

    Remember that Elder Holland, being the careful researcher that he is, said we don’t conform to “5th Century” creeds, but instead to “1st Century” doctrine. The part he quoted about “there are not three incomprehensibles, but one incomprehensible” (and the witty quip about what was truly “incomprehensible”) comes from the Athanasian Creed, which was probably authored in the 5th or 6th Century. The AC, it should also be noted, is terribly unpopular in most Western churches, and almost all Eastern churches reject it as unauthoritative. It really only gets used to either a) point out the bizarre qualities of the modern Trinitarian viewpoint, and b) to bash the LDS Church as somehow “unchristian”.

    Summary: Nicene Creed isn’t all that bad, apart from one or two subtle theological problems which led the Church down the Trinitarian path. It is the Athanasian Creed that is just plain confusing.

  131. It’s hard not to notice the ubiquitous semi-voice crack in delivery, especially on the part of men. I read no self-conscious performance or cynicism here, but it’s amazing how contagious Mormon habits of speech and locution are.

    I dunno that it’s a Mormon thing. Most 80- and 90-year-old men I’ve known, don’t speak nearly as clearly or as strong as the general authorities in that age range.

  132. Nitsav, yes that is Aaron Shavofalov summarizing the talks over at his blog.

    And for the record, when I read through the summaries he posted this afternoon and he’s done a very nice job. No snide commentary, no cherry-picking of the juiciest stuff – just plain old summary of the talks. Any Mormon could have done it and come up with the same thing. Nice pictures too.

    Aaron and I have gone the rounds on other stuff, but there really wasn’t anything objectionable about the post. Last I saw, he hadn’t even allowed comments for the post which meant no one else was making snide commentary in the comments section either.

  133. Does anyone else find it ironic that the movement of Elder Eyring into the FP is getting WAY more press around the country than the calling of Elder Cook into the Q12? In my mind, filling a vacancy in the 12 is far more momentous than a change in responsibility for an existing apostle – but from the outside I can see why Elder Eyring’s move is seen as more prestigious and important by those who perceive a hierarchical promotion.

  134. Last July Beliefnet hosted a debate between an Evangelical, Albert Mohler, and Orson Scott Card around the question “are Mormons Christian?” Mohler pushed very hard on Mormons’ rejection of the creeds, and he named in particular the Nicene Creed, as the basis for his judgment that they are not Christian. This might be part of the reason that Elder Holland pushed back so aggressively on this point.

    The debate can be found here (confusingly, you have to go from the bottom of the page up in order to read the exchange in order).

  135. Not to threadjack, but that Card/Mohler debate frustrated me greatly because Mohler made a lot of comments about how Christ is not worshiped in the Book of Mormon (or, at least, a different Christ is worshiped). I want to know what he meant, but Card let it slip by. To me, that would have been interesting.

  136. Ray –

    I think it’s because (a) Elder Eyring has been part of the Public Affairs committtee and he’s well-known to the media, (b) he’s pretty forthright and frank when he wants to be, and (c) we’ve had a couple of Q12 changes the last couple of years, but we haven’t had a 1P change since President Hunter died, and in that case, we had a new president of the Church to focus on.

    Remember that within the past few decades, we had long periods where a FP counselor was in effect running many of the day-to-day things because the President of the Church was not able to do so due to health. Hinckley being so lucid at this point of his life is actually quite a turn of events. Plus, Eyring is a known quantity. Cook generally is not.

    If you look at the press conference, Eyring took the lead in answering most questions and Elder Cook didn’t say much.

  137. (Also Ray – there was a moment at the end of the news conference where Bruce Olsen indicated that they were putting up an extended bio of Elder Eyring yesterday, but that Elder Cook’s would be up as soon as they had a chance to get with Elder Cook and write it. So we were dealing with a case of a well-known church authority vs. an unknown.)

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